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Diva Patti asks, ‘Have you ever tried polenta?’

If you don’t know about polenta, let me inform and entertain you! Polenta is an awesome starch to use as a main dish or side dish with any meal. It can be served sweet or savory, loose — like mashed potatoes — or sliced into “bread.”

Polenta can take the place of pasta, bread or rice in a variety of ways. It is made from corn and can be prepared very simply or gussied up with a few inexpensive ingredients. Also, polenta is great to serve to a large crowd since the polenta itself is dairy free, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. (Only corn allergies need apply!) There are so many wonderful things you can do with this amazing food, and at 20 cents per one-cup serving you can afford to try them all!

Simple polenta

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 8

Here’s the recipe for the simplest polenta. It’s made with salted water and a bit of butter. Made this way it’s about 20 cents per one cup serving. It doesn’t get much more frugal and fabulous than that.

6 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups cornmeal

1 tablespoon butter

Bring the water to a boil and add the salt, then reduce the heat to low. Add the cornmeal in a steady slow stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Keep stirring on low heat until it’s really thick. Be careful. It will bubble and splash! This might take 20 minutes or so. Add the butter as it thickens. You can tell it’s done when it pulls away from the sides of the pot. When it’s ready, you can serve it right from the pot or spread in a greased 9 x 13 pan and allow it to cool.

No baking, nothing. Let it sit about 10 minutes before cutting it into squares. Cut into 12-15 squares. You can top polenta with all kinds of good stuff!! Divalicious!

Variation: Creamy polenta

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 8

This is out of this world. Seriously, if you’ve never had polenta this is the recipe to try. It’s OMG good. Polenta fit for company but so easy you’ll make it any day of the week.

3 cups water

3 cups milk

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups cornmeal

4 oz. (half a brick) cream cheese, cut into small chunks.

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon butter

Follow directions above adding the rest of the ingredients as the polenta begins to thicken.

What can I add to my polenta, you ask? Here are a few ideas to get you started. More butter, toasted nuts, honey, syrups (plain or flavored), jams or preserves, poached eggs, fresh herbs, cream or infused cream, cinnamon, brown sugar, tomatoes, caramelized onions, sour cream, sautéed mushrooms, salsa, grated cheese, bacon crumbles or diced ham. Bon Appétit!

Frugal foodie fun contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at divasonadimedotcom.

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